I have always thought that sending people unsolicited photos of one’s nude intimate body parts or posting them on the Internet was, at the very least rude, possibly harassing, and at worst, a crime. Just ask Anthony Weiner.
But according to an article in the New York Times (of course!), with the coming of the quarantine, sending photos of one’s genitalia or secondary sex characteristics to lovers, friends, people on apps, or even people the sender has not met, are “gifts,” acts “of resilience in isolation, a way to seduce without touch.” From, “The Nude Selfie Is Now High Art,” by novelist Diana Spechler:
. . . nude selfies have become one symbol of resilience, a refusal to let social distancing render us sexless. Nude selfies are no longer foreplay, a whetting of a lover’s appetite, but the whole meal.
Though the debate about art versus pornography has never been settled, a case can be made that quarantine nude selfies are art.
Yeah, right. So are all the dog videos popping up.
After riffing on nudity in art — which is a different issue altogether — Spechler gets into why people are sending or posting nude images of themselves:
Sending a nude selfie is a request to be witnessed — not objectively, but through rose-tinted (or smooth-filtered) lenses. “When I choose to be seen in this way,” Kat said, “I’m taking an empowered action to receive what we all desire, and what we desire even more now in Covid times: a witness to our own vulnerability, our most private truth.”
Or, to put it another way, it’s an excuse for exhibitionism.
Spechler strives mightily to discern deep meaning in these acts of pornographic narcissism:
In these disorienting times, we are psychologically naked, but our nudes are aspirational: We are breasts propped on pillows and Facetuned. We are headless, proof that we’re not overthinking or panicking. We are free, cast in a single ray of sunlight, not stuck inside with a vitamin D deficiency. We are taking a risk at a time when we are not allowed to take risks, baring our bodies with no guaranteed reaction. We hit send and hold our breaths, silently asking until we receive the reply, am I safe am I safe am I safe?
Oh, good grief. Only the editors of the New York Times would think that such drivel is deep.